Dudley Players will take the stage this week
March 27, 2011 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated April 3, 2011 at 11:04 p.m.
The Dudley Players, a fifth-grade Shakespearean acting group at Dudley Magnet Elementary, will perform on a real stage for the first time this week.
Wednesday, they performed a lively excerpt of the play "Julius Caesar" in their cafeteria as a last run-through before showtime.
"Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears," said KeShawn Perry, who acted out the play's famous line while standing on a lunch table.
The school, one of the older buildings in the district, was not built with a cafeteria stage like others. For eight years, the group practiced and performed classical productions on a portable stage. On March 31, they'll perform at the Victoria Fine Arts Center under the lights of a professional stage for the first time.
"We'll be ready for showtime, and we'll be really good," said Mason Lischka, who plays Casca, a senator who conspires to kill Caesar.
Preparation for the play lasts most of the school year and students learn Roman history, culture along with drama.
"Our character is someone different from us, so we get to be a whole other person," Lischka said.
Students also learn teamwork and courage.
"I have to be really macho and arrogant," said Calder Meis, who plays Julius Caesar. Meis said he watched videos of Benito Mussolini to learn how to look angry.
"That was just an example to show me how to use my hands and be loud," he said.
The play even helped Ashton Maughn to become a better speaker.
"Now I can really go confident and loud and show the people what's this, what's that," she said.
While the students practiced, instructor Mary Silkey waved directions from far off.
"I think she can lead a whole school of players," said John Atzenhoffer, who becomes emperor at the end of the play. "She's just a great director."
Silkey believes the play helps students conquer their fears.
"It's a scary thing to be able to get up and face your fear," she said. "But the kids who are scared to get up there in the beginning - they have such a sense of accomplishment."